Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Ten Commandments

The passover story causes us to think of the ten commandments each year, as we recount the story of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt and their 40-year stay in the desert on their way to the promised land. One person commented that her training would indicate there is a better way to state these rules for living, one that doesn’t put so much emphasis on the NOT. In fact, only two of the commandments ask us to do something (as opposed to NOT to do...): honor your parents, keep the Sabbath holy.

I started thinking about this and wondering if the evolution of society from the time of Moses would indicate the need for some change in the list of commandments: Would there now be 15? Or perhaps only 7? What would be the best rules for living in this complicated world in which we exist?

I thought about adding the Golden Rule, which asks us to treat each other with the same respect we would like to be accorded. Maybe something to do with preserving the environment. What about not taking on unnecessary debt? What about not spending your money on ridiculous things like lottery tickets or other games of chance? What about working collectively for peace in the world? What about not insisting that others share our personal belief structures? Or what about not holding prisoners with no just cause? Or trying to make other countries emulate our political systems?

I concluded that the original ten commandments were still quite applicable today, just as they were initially stated. (It’s hard to come up with a positive way of saying “Thou shalt NOT kill.”) I like the thought of some additions to fit our modern society.

What do you think? Can we improve on something that has lasted for 4,000+ years?

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